ASMFC Addendum V to Amendment 6 to Liberalize Management Measures
An important development is underway in striped bass management. The main thrust of this movement comes from the Chesapeake Bay states. Fishery managers from this area are claiming economic hardship for their commercial fishermen due to the 20% reduction in quota that they took two years ago in reaction to a declining spawning stock biomass and sporadically poor spawning success. They want to resume catching striped bass at the levels that were allowed prior to this reduction.
At the winter meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission this point of view was voiced and a vote was taken to consider an addendum to the fishery management plan that would allow the increase. The northern states, which have arguably seen the greatest decline in their overall striped bass fisheries, would be expected to oppose such a proposal. Those states recognize that the quality of striped bass fishing has declined significantly since its peak 15 years ago, and they want to see the stock rebuild. Surprisingly, Connecticut and New Jersey, both game fish states, cast their votes with commercial interests to allow more stripers to be caught and killed. The result was very close, with just one vote causing the proposed addendum to move to the next phase of consideration. This is a clear demonstration that in some cases the people who find their way into ASMFC advisory roles do not support the views of the fishing communities they are supposed to represent.
The Stripers Forever Angler Surveys have shown continuous erosion of angler satisfaction with the striper fishery. Spawning success in Chesapeake Bay has been very sporadic. This past year was again one of the lowest years on record for baby stripers. The striped bass spawning stock continues to erode and may very well now be below the target levels set by the ASMFC to provide a sufficient component of large female bass. It is most certainly not a time when we should be returning to higher catch levels.
The commission will vote on the addendum at their spring meeting, which begins May 8th, 2017. Shortly before this meeting we will supply our members with names and contact information of ASMFC commissioners and a more detailed view of the reasons to oppose this increased kill. We will ask you to join us in contacting the members of the ASMFC and also the governor in your state – make no mistake, the governor’s office is where the move in the Chesapeake Bay area is coming from, and letting them know how you want them to vote on this ill-conceived addendum. In the meantime, if you know your ASMFC representatives or people of political influence in your state – especially CT and NJ – let them know how you feel about this issue.
ASMFC New Release- February 3, 2017: Draft Addendum V to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan